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Album Review

Canada's Souljazz Orchestra were well-known to European audiences before their 2010 Strut debut, Rising Sun; it was the sextet's first all-acoustic effort. Meeting with nearly universal acclaim, it spread the sextet's well-deserved reputation for creating a musically adventurous meld of global styles, accurately reflecting roots cultures in dialogue with one another in the 21st century — without watering them down. Solidarity furthers the band's reach as it employs vocal talents from a wide range of singers from Canada's vast underground music scene. The band employs its usual meld of Afro-beat, Caribbean, tropical, Latin, and Brazilian styles with jazz, funk, and soul, but the interaction with singers brings the mix to a whole different level. Set opener "Bibinay" features El Hadji "Élage" M'Baye, a Senegalese native who now resides in Quebec. Here, Afro-beat and Eithio-jazz meet slippery funk grooves from the modern West. The layers of guitars and distorted keyboards (Pierre Chrétien) are folded in to layers of percussion, horns, and a call-and-response chorus. Immediately following, M'Baye leads the band in the funk number "Kelen Ati Leen." "Ya Basta" showcases the band's horn section as it employs incendiary salsa in an excellentstepper, with a vocal from the Souljazz Orchestra's resident conguero and drummer, Philippe Lafrenière leading the furious dance chant. "Jericho" is on the roots reggae tip with baritone saxophonist Ray Murray on vocals, while the more streetwise "Kingpin" goes at reggae with guest Gary "Slim" Moore leading the swaggering bubbler. The other reggae-inflected jam here, "Conquering Lion," is hard on the jazz-funk tip with killer front-line horns on all burners. "Serve & Protect" is a furious rhythm collision of Afro-beat and Latin rhythms. While horns assert themselves at the start, it's the keys, layers of manic percussion, and M'Baye and a chorus that send this one over as the set's strongest cut. Ultimately, Solidarity is seamless. No matter how high they set the bar here, the Souljazz Orchestra executes. The music is always exciting, soulful, and expertly played, and never falls prey to clichés.

Customer Reviews

One Of A Kind

Soul Jazz Orchestra is unique in every sense. The combination of brass instrumentation, keyboard acrobats and percussion variation makes for an unpredictable and intriguing style. A welcome and refreshing step outside the musical box!

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A multicultural, high-energy collective from Ottawa, Ontario, the Souljazz Orchestra — featuring keyboardist Pierre Chrétien, alto saxophonist Zakari Frantz, baritone saxophonist Ray Murray, tenor saxophonist Steve Patterson, and percussionists Marielle Rivard and Philippe Lafrenière, all of whom are also vocalists — took root in 2002 and debuted with a fully developed sound that fused Latin and African jazz, funk, and Afro-beat. The group’s first album was Uprooted, released in 2005...
Full bio
Solidarity, The Souljazz Orchestra
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